It can be difficult for parents of children on the spectrum to find therapeutic and recreational programs. Especially ones that keep the interest of their child. John Hatfield, owner of Bridgewater Martial Arts in Bridgwater, Massachusetts, became well aware of this issue after teaching students with autism and other developmental disorders. Inspired by their drive and enthusiasm, Hatfield created the Kids Action Initiative (KAI) program in June of 2012. KAI is non-profit martial arts class for children with developmental disorders. Where students learn about physical education, how to take care of their bodies, nutrition, and healing. All while working towards their black belt in a safe and controlled environment.

The class happens twice a week, with one for ages 4-12 and the other for teenagers, each running for 45 minutes. The class consists of standard exercise routines like push-ups and kicks, to aid auditory processing. Along with memory exercises to improve mental capabilities, and question and answer routines to promote social interactions. According to The Enterprise, Hatfield’s goal is to not only to improve strength and technique, but to work on the brain-to-body coordination for the students in his class with developmental disorders”.

One mother, Hilary King, told representatives of the KAI program that since her son Eric “has been in the specialized martial arts program, he has shown tremendous improvement at school at at home”. As well as “has a whole new attitude which teachers, family, and friends have all noticed”. The program has plenty of room for students to grow. As they are given the opportunity to transfer from the modified to the typical program as they progress.

John Hatfield teaching 12 year old Mason Austin

To learn more about this program visit

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